Birthday boy Soyizwapi speechless after Dubai Sevens win
CAPE TOWN – Almost speechless. That's how Blitzbok skipper Siviwe Soyizwapi is feeling after they beat New Zealand in the final of the Dubai leg of the 2019/20 World Sevens Series.
If you watched that game, you wouldn't find it hard to figure out just why the 27-year-old is at a loss for words whenever he reflects on their success in the opening tournament.
Not only did they dethrone New Zealand as Dubai champions, but they also kept them scoreless – something that has happened only once before in a final featuring the most successful team in the history of the World Sevens Series.
On Saturday the Blitzboks officially became the most successful team at the Dubai leg, having won seven titles in the UAE. Going into the showdown, they were tied with New Zealand on six.
All of that should do enough to explain why this tournament success was such a special one. Add in there the fact that it was also the captain's birthday, and you have to feel sorry for his friends and family thinking of birthdays to come. I mean, what can top the present he got at the weekend?
“I was saying to my roommate Ruhan (Nel) yesterday morning how great it would be if we won the tournament on my birthday,” said Soyizwapi after the team lifted the trophy at The Sevens Stadium.
“And now we did. Since that final whistle went, I have been almost speechless, taking in the effort the guys put out there.”
Their performances in the pool stages weren't perfect, but what should be seen as a positive is how the team stepped up as the tournament progressed.
The Blitzboks survived a bit of a scare against Kenya in their opener, a slow start against Spain and were one man down in their Pool D decider against England thanks to a yellow card to Ruhan Nel. England scored twice in that period, but the Blitzboks came back and did enough to go into the play-offs unbeaten.
In the knock-outs, though, they were next level.
Their performance against a Samoa team lacking no endeavour at all was an impressive one, a complete one. And their defensive brilliance against New Zealand in the final, well, that got the job done...that and the contribution of some of their speedsters to score three tries.
Soyizwapi was particularly pleased with how they managed to come together in the big games: “We kept on improving. Every match we got better and better and managed to do things the way we wanted to. We played the way we wanted to play.”
It was double victory for South Africa in Dubai, as the SA Rugby Sevens Academy team won the International Invitational tournament at the same venue.
No wonder Soyizwapi credited the Springbok Sevens programme as a whole...
“We have great depth at the moment and that pushes the guys even more,” he said.
“The Academy side also won their final and there are also several current Blitzboks in that team. We are very fortunate to be in that position. As a squad we always strive for improvement."
The Blitzboks arrived back in Cape Town yesterday.
The Cape Town leg, which will also see the Springbok Women's Sevens team in action, kicks off on Thursday with the final being contested in Sunday.